Offshore workers employed by the Wood Group on Shell’s North Sea platforms are demanding that new proposals to cut their terms and conditions further be withdrawn, according to Scotland’s biggest union, Unite.
Unite is to meet with the Wood Group management team later this week to carry the message of opposition to further cuts on behalf of the offshore workforce.
The offshore workers say that the major oil companies are dictating that further cuts to their employers be passed onto the workforce. This is now giving rise to serious consideration by offshore workers that they will revert to industrial action to defend their pay and conditions.
Unite is also concerned that the continuing reductions in the workforce could make it impossible for the rigorous health and safety standards that ought to govern offshore work to be observed.
Commenting, Unite’s Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said:
“Unite has long warned that the oil and gas industry is cutting too fast and too far. Lives and safety are being put at risk and workers have had enough.
“It is approaching 30 years since the horrific Piper Alpha disaster yet it seems that the oil and gas industry has learned little from the world’s worst offshore disaster where 167 workers lost their lives.
“Employers must not respond to the current downturn in this industry’s fortunes by putting people in a position of risk. Workers are feeling increasingly frustrated that their concerns are going unheard.
“I repeat our call for all involved in this vital industry to be brought together in an oil and gas summit so that safety standards are not the casualty of this downturn and that the potential for catastrophe is averted.
“Unite will be consulting with our members about their concerns and will consider what official industrial action may be necessary. But we say to the employers, do not delay in seeking to address the issues that demand immediate attention.”
Unite Scotland has been calling on the industry to redouble its efforts to tackle its safety challenges by properly engaging with workers and their trade unions, particularly in light of the recent issues with Health and Safety Executive cuts, offshore helicopter transport safety and an ageing offshore infrastructure. Around 50 per cent of fixed platforms on the UK continental shelve have exceeded their 25-year live span.
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Notes to editors:
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.